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GLOBALOUTLOOK COVERSTORY


Global IPA leadership lags in gender diversity


MORE DIVERSITY IN THE MOST SENIOR IPA LEADERS COULD BE ONE STEP TOWARDS INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT, WRITE ALEX IRWIN-HUNT AND TAHAAHMED


essarily practise what they preach. While the fifth of the UN’s sus-


W


tainable development goals (SDGs) is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, the agencies mandated to attract invest- ment in line with these SDGs fall short. In the top 100 recipient coun- tries of greenfield FDI globally, just 17%of the heads of national IPAs are female, according to an fDi analysis at the timeof publication. Although the leaders of these


100 IPAs varied by organisational structure – from executive director to CEOor chair – this representation falls short of the 49.6% female share of the global population.Among the 37 OECD countries, female represen- tation in the top leadership position of IPAs stands at 32%, almost double the global proportion. The investment promotionindus-


try performs better than the private sector, where just 2.8%of theworld’s 500 largest companies have female CEOs. Nonetheless, the well docu- mented benefits of gender diversity in leadership withinthe private sec- tor, such as improved financial per- formance and economic growth, begs the questionofwhatmore gender diversity in economic development leadership couldmeanin practice.


Whythe imbalance? OECDresearch showsthat IPAsoper- ate in acomplicatedand dense net-


PEOPLENORMALLY FINDOUTABOUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FROMOTHER PEOPLE IN THE FIELD


In need of a boost: Jampro’s Diane Edwards believes women’s self confidence needs to be bolstered


work ofpublicandprivate stakehold- ers, interactingonaverage with 25 dif- ferent organisations. Bridging the gap between thepublicandprivate sectors requires leaders tomanage ministerial relationships, influence policy and gain the respect of male-dominated private sector leaders, says Diane Edwards, president of Jamaica’s invest- mentpromotion agencyJampro. “The challenge is recognition.


Personality and leadership traits are extremely important, and that’s where I think the self confidence of womenneeds to be bolstered. It is quite often[women] just don’t get admitted to economic development circles and it’s not easy for themto develop the links they need,” she says. MsEdwards says that57%of IPA


leaders are female in the Caribbean region, but more needs to be done to encourage future female leaders. “You need to helpwomento operate in a maleworld without feeling isolated. I don’t think there are enough female networks that bolster confidence. I would like to seemore of an inclusive set of business networks,” she says.


Beyondthe statusquo The economic development indus- try often operates as an “old boy


August/September 2020 www.fDiIntelligence.com


network”, says Rodrick Miller, CEO of Invest Puerto Rico. “People nor- mally find out about economic development from other people in the field.” That “old boy network” appears


particularly exclusive at the top of the hierarchy of investment promo- tion and economic development organisations. In the UK, 53.9% of civil servants are women, with 12.7% fromthe black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, accord- ing to government figures. However, according to fDi


research, only 13 (38%) of the UK’s 34 local enterprise partnerships – the public-private institutions set up to promote local growth andemploy- ment – have female leaders. Only three (8.9%) have leaders coming fromBAME communities. “I think we have to be aggressive


about going into colleges and universities, making sure that young people understand what economic development has to offer, and mentoring them once they get into the profession,” con- cludes Mr Miller.■


Additional research conducted by Jack Conway


23


hen it comes to gender diversity, investment pro- motion agencies do not nec-


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